Side-to-side comparisons of bone mineral density in upper and lower limbs of collegiate athletes

J Strength Cond Res. 2002 Nov;16(4):586-90.


This cross-sectional study investigated the effects of participation in various sports on side-to-side (contralateral) differences in bone mineral density (BMD) of the upper and lower limbs. The BMD of the arms and legs was measured using dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. The subjects were 184 collegiate athletes, both men and women, who participated in NCAA Division I-A baseball, basketball, football, golf, soccer, tennis, cross-country, indoor/outdoor track, and volleyball. Results revealed greater BMD of the right arms compared with the left arms for all teams, with the most pronounced differences observed in men's and women's tennis and men's baseball. Differences in the lower limbs were less common. No significant differences in lower limb BMD were found in the women. In men, differences in lower limb BMD were found in the football and tennis teams, with the nondominant leg having greater bone mass. Recognition of contralateral differences in bone density may be of particular interest to strength and conditioning professionals as they consider the need to include bilateral and unilateral training programs in an effort to maximize performance and minimize stress-related injuries.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Bones of Upper Extremity / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg Bones / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Probability
  • Sports / physiology*
  • Stress, Mechanical